And when the servant of the man of God was risen early, and gone forth, behold, an host compassed the city both with horses and chariots. And his servant said unto him, Alas, my master! how shall we do? — 2 Kings 6:15
A missionary in Mongolia named James Gilmour had first aid knowledge but was not a doctor. One day a wounded soldier with a thigh bone that was badly broken was brought to him for treatment. Mr. Gilmour did not know how to set the bone, and there were no doctors or books available. It might have been easy for him to cry, “Alas! How shall we do?” But instead, he prayed and asked God for help.
While Mr. Gilmour was dealing with this patient, a group of beggars arrived requesting money. He quickly gave them a little gift and some spiritual exhortation, and all but one of the group left. The man who stayed was so underfed that he was nearly a skeleton. Suddenly, Mr. Gilmore recognized him as the answer to his prayer, because he was a living illustration of anatomy. He asked the beggar for permission to examine him, traced the man’s femur bone with his fingers, and then set the soldier’s fracture. Miraculously, God had solved the dilemma.
In today’s text, when Elisha’s servant saw that they were surrounded by the enemy army, he thought they were in an impossible predicament. Yet, by faith, the prophet saw that God is greater than any situation, and that He was in control and would help them.
Today, while we may not face the need to set a fracture or be delivered from an army, we all experience circumstances that can cause us to think, Alas! What can we do? Perhaps we have a rebellious teenager, a terminal illness, a financial crisis, or a leaky roof. Whatever our situation, we can remember the point of this account — God is at work for His people in ways that we cannot always see. He knows where we are and what we are facing, and He has the power to bring us through and be glorified in our lives.
If you have an “Alas!” circumstance in your life, why not look to the Lord and see how He will undertake for you?
The first six verses of the text tell of the axe which floated. One of the communities of the sons of the prophets under Elisha’s leadership had outgrown their facilities. The place was “too strait” (too small) for them, so they undertook a building project. This was probably the school at Jericho, because they went to the Jordan River for the wood. When God miraculously caused the borrowed axe to float, it illustrated that He and also Elisha cared about these students. Baal worship was prevalent, and this miracle would have helped reassure the young men that God was with them.
Verses 8-23 show God’s miraculous protection of Elisha and his servant. Syria, to Israel’s northeast, regularly made guerrilla-type raids into Israel. Yet, God repeatedly thwarted Syria by revealing their plans to Elisha, who told Israel’s king, Jehoram. Ben-hadad, Syria’s king, thought to capture Elisha, and sent a large contingency of horses and chariots to surround Dothan at night. The situation was quite alarming to Elisha’s servant, until God opened his eyes.
In the Hebrew language, the word translated blindness in verse 18 conveys the thought of “loss or distortion of vision resulting in mental confusion and bewilderment.” The same word was also used one other place in the Bible — Genesis 19:11 — when the angels prevented the men of Sodom from assaulting them.
Elisha led the army from Dothan to Israel’s capital, Samaria, a distance of eleven or twelve miles to the south. Even though Israel’s king was ungodly, he respected Elisha, calling him “my father.” And he humbly followed Elisha’s instructions, giving the Syrians royal treatment and then sending them home.
God’s power was illustrated in various ways by this incident: Elisha’s foreknowledge of Syria’s plans, the host of Heaven that surrounded Elisha, the revelation to his servant of this fact, the blindness of the Syrian army, and then the recovery of their sight.
Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah
B. Jehoram of Israel
3. The ministry of Elisha
f. The miracle of the floating axe (6:1-7)
g. The deliverance of Israel from Syria
(1) Syria’s disgust for Elisha (6:8-14)
(2) Syria’s blinded army (6:15-19)
(3) Syria’s army captured (6:20-23)
When you face desperate times, keep confidence that God will see you through.